Some of the content of this article does not adequately describe this pastor. I have held a “regular workplace job.” For 14 years, I worked at UPS, much of it in operations management. I have that experience of relating the impact of faith upon one’s actions in the workplace. Not saying I was perfect at doing it or that there weren’t many times where I royally screwed it up, but I am able to act as a bridge because I have lived in both the “regular workplace” and the “church workplace.”
I remember my faith being mentioned in casual and informal conversations with my fellow supervisors. I remember being the “go-to” guy when one of them wanted prayer for something. I remember the respect that I earned from them. I remember one time when an employee (who I was in the process of disciplining for a breaking of the rules) went to my manager and other supervisors and accused me of sexual harassment. They responded something like, “Really? Jim? Yeah, right. Not!”
I do agree with Harris when he speaks of the mission field that has been largely ignored by much of the church. I believe this is true, in part, because of this “compartmentalization” mentality that has silently crept its way into the fabric, approach and perspective of the church.
Even Harris’s own words demonstrate this in one way. He writes, “Clergy leaders are much more concerned about what happens within the walls of the church than in the workplaces outside the church.” Once again, the building in which the church meets defines the borders and parameters of the identity of the church. When this definition remains in force, whether consciously or subconsciously, the church doesn’t go because it can’t; it’s fixed and static. People must come to it.
I admit that I find it sad that there are so many who have this perspective, whether consciously or subconsciously.
The church is to permeate its community in every way conceivable or imaginable. Those who constitute her are the church no matter where they may find themselves, whether the workplace, the home, the schoolyard, or (one of my favorites) the golf course. Wherever we find ourselves is where God has called us to impact those around us in appropriate ways.
This mentality must once again become the focus and thrust of the leadership of the church. Stop putting such a strong emphasis on the building in which the church gathers for worship or other meetings. It is a resource, nothing more. While a good resource, it has nothing more in making a church a church than a house does in making a family a family.
In leading my current congregation, it is my desire to continually move those who call me their pastor deeper and deeper into this perspective of the true identity of First Baptist Church of Fort Dodge. I want them intertwining in this community, not only in the workplace, but by being involved in the activities, issues and needs of the community and through that involvement, interjecting the grace, love, wisdom and whole character of our loving and grace-filled God so that lives are positively impacted and the currency of hope is had by all.
It is as this continually happens more and more that we truly move deeper into what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ and not just some social group.